Nothing would grow in that loamy,
black soil. It appeared to be the most fertile mix on the planet,
but not even the fiercest weeds would set root in it. Mysteriously,
the black stuff had also started spreading and was steadily eating
acreage on that high-altitude horse ranch.
Just as the ranch's
owner had written it off as "some kinda fungus," Carol, a
middle-aged artist boarding her horse on the property, offered
another solution. Standing only 5 feet from the ground and topped
with a mane of red hair, she was known for her small stature and
bold disposition. And that day she eagerly revealed the true black
dirt culprits to my wife and me.
"It's the Arkadians, you
know," she proclaimed.
she said confidently. "Not little green men of course. Arkadians
are more like humans, but with grayer skin. Their ships have been
landing in the field and transforming the soil. Pretty amazing
Carol then added even
more side-spin to the story, saying matter of factly, "Shane told
me. They started visiting a couple months ago, and that's when
Shane first met them. Nothing to worry about. Totally peaceful.
Just getting the lay of the land, so to speak."
Carol had rescued Shane
off the race track nearly 20 years earlier. The two had developed
an undeniably strong bond. And yes, Shane was a horse.
Anywhere else, a little
shock therapy and a few weeks in the white room may have been
prescribed. But the story did little to faze us. After all, it had
only been a few days since I'd stumbled upon Carol as she pulled an
"energy knot" out of my wife's neck, tossing the invisible mass
into the air and muttering an incantation. A candidate for
psychoanalysis elsewhere in the world, Carol was a local hero in
our neck of the woods. As we all know, there's something unique
about Southwest Colorado and its inhabitants. I've been falling in
love with their trickster energy since I started growing up in this
corner of the world. Those people and places with a little wildness
in their eyes always seemed to have the best stories to
Maybe it's the
ruggedness of the peaks, the barren nature of the desert or the
combination of the two, but our section of the state has always
attracted color. Geography and altitude have created a virtual
frontier here, and people like Carol are always more comfortable on
the edge. Other examples of the phenomenon abound.
I fondly remember one
member of a community who single-handedly worked to dismantle the
American legal structure. Acting as his own counsel, the man
tirelessly fought the charge that he was caught driving without a
driver's license. His defense: The higher order does not require
spiritual beings to carry such licensure.
On the subject of legal
structure, there was the hippie attorney who spent his career
fiercely defending the little guy. As a result, he frequently took
payment in the form of beet juice and baggies filled with
custom-rolled joints. When 1960s icon Norman Mailer visited the
Four Corners area, it was this attorney and his beautiful bride who
met Mailer at the airport. They then escorted the prized writer
around our little edge of the universe.
There was the woman who
traded her position as head chef to follow her true calling,
shamanism, and is now making a better living; the 50-year-old cow
poke with a masters in philosophy and an addiction to large ladies
with names like Madge; the former Belushi cohort who left Second
City to teach English in Colorado and routinely burst into tears of
joy; and the woman who gave up her six-figure, corporate life to
gaze endlessly at the Rockies from behind the wheel of the ski area
Forget the beautiful
people. Give me Arkadians drunk on beet juice and high on mountain
air. For me, this is the real fabric of the Four Corners. These are
the neighbors who have added the most texture to my life in
Colorado. Now that the summer season is winding down, the 60-hour
work weeks are vanishing and the game of chase the dollar sign is
slowing, I'm ready to get reacquainted.